Wright State faculty to lead community conversations on books of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

Awad Halabi, associate professor and coordinator of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.

Wright State University faculty members will lead three separate public discussions about the work of authors honored in recent years by the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

It is part of Community Conversations, a partnership between Wright State’s College of Liberal Arts, Dayton Metro Library and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

The conversations take place on Aug. 24, Oct. 2 and Nov. 2 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Eichelberger Forum, room 103, of the Main Library, 215 E. Third St. in Dayton. They are free and open to the public.

Inaugurated in 2006, the peace prize is the only annual U.S. literary award recognizing the power of the written word to promote peace. It honors adult fiction and nonfiction books that lead readers to a better understanding of other cultures, peoples, religions and political points of view.

Wright State has been heavily involved with the peace prize. The Department of English Language and Literatures is a supporter, helping plan events surrounding the annual awarding of the prizes and sponsoring authors who come to campus to meet with creative writing students and give public readings.

Community conversations pair faculty with community leaders and other experts to facilitate wide-ranging discussion of themes and issues raised in books that have won the award.

Andrew Strombeck, associate professor of English.

The conversations will feature the work of Karima Bennoune, 2014 winner of the prize for nonfiction for her book “Your Fatwa Does not Apply Here”; Viet Thanh Nguyen, winner of the 2016 prize for fiction for “The Sympathizer”; and Colm Toíbín, recipient of the 2017 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award and author of, most recently, “House of Names.”

Although the conversations will be wide-ranging and the books and authors very different from each other, each of the author’s works touch on themes of immigration, family and otherness, providing an overarching theme for the conversations.

Awad Halabi, associate professor of history and religion and coordinator of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, will lead the Aug. 24 discussion about Bennoune’s book “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here.” The Algerian-born Bennoune is a professor of international law at the University of California–Davis School of Law and was appointed a United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights in 2015. Her book tells of heroic resistance by Muslims to Islamist fundamentalism.

Andrew Strombeck, associate professor of English, will lead the Oct. 2 discussion about “The Sympathizer” by Nguyen, who will participate online. Nguyen is Aerol Arnold Chair of English and professor of English and American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California. His books frequently address the impact of the Vietnam conflict on the lives of Vietnamese and Americans.

Carol Loranger, associate professor and chair of English.

Carol Loranger, associate professor and chair of English, will lead the Nov. 2 discussion about multiple works of Toíbín, including “House of Names,” “Brooklyn,” “Nora Webster,” “The Testament of Mary” and “The Blackwater Lightship.”

The Community Conversations series is part of the Peace Prize’s outreach and education initiative, which is planned to include development of a repository of teaching materials for selected works, as well as annual fall conversations in partnership with area universities and Dayton Metro Library.

Wright State celebrates its 50th anniversary as an independent public university in 2017, culminating with a special Homecoming celebration Sept. 29 through Oct. 1.

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